The Fighting Cats; The Two Cats.
Matkhandoush is truly a wonderful, natural museum of prehistoric engravings from
Fezzan, housing a large number of engravings found across the valleys and rocks
of the mountain. In reality, the valley of Matkhandoush is a unique open-air
art gallery, preserving imagery of prehistoric animals that once roamed the fertile
savannah, and as such it is one of the oldest museums in the world. The name
is written in various forms including: Metkhandoush, Metkhandouch, Matkhandouch
(as in the above sign), Metendouch, and several more.
Matkhendoush (Messak Settafet): Large Pastoral Period:
An engraving showing how trapping stones were used to catch large animals like giraffe. According to Professor Mori, who illustrated modern Tuareg examples of the trap, the animal places its foot on the big circle, the hoop, onto which were threaded a number of palm leaves [probably palm thorns] with their pointed ends pointing towards the centre, and as a result the animal's foot gets caught. The stone thus ends up attached to the animal's leg, eventually wearing it out to a slow halt, tragically to be caught by the chasing hunter(s). The whole trap is buried and therefore is invisible to the victim!
Matkhendoush (Messak Settafet): Large Pastoral Period: Professor Mori also suggests that the engravings may hide deeper symbolism and hidden mythology.
The photo below shows a modern hoop of similar design from Nalut, Nafousa Mountain.
Trapping Devices From Nalut.
This engraving appears to have been super-imposed with letters
of the Berber alphabet Tifinagh. (See Ghadames Museum for a table of the
An engraving from the Pastoral period, with the horns unusually pointing down. Professor Fabrizio Mori relates that Herodotus called this animal: "Bos opisthonomos", and argues that these horns are a zoological oddity, also mentioned
by Herodotus as a characteristic of the "backward"oxen ( opisthonomos : from Greek opisthen = backwards + nemein = graze).
Eyeing the grass.
An engraving of a group of giraffes with skin details.
A Prehistoric Rhinoceros Engraving.
A Crocodile or a Monitor Lizard?